Michael Vick, the field is yours. Do with it as you wish.
That's basically what happened last year, right? Vick took over for the injured Kevin Kolb in Week 1 and never looked back. He went from someone who was despised by all for his involvement in a dog-fighting ring to a player most Fantasy owners now covet on Draft Day.
Vick passed for 3,018 yards on 63 percent completions with 21 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also added 676 rushing yards and nine touchdowns with just three fumbles. The passing yards, completion percentage, touchdowns and rushing touchdowns were all career highs, and he's looking to build on that performance this season.
Vick will remain in a contract year after being designated as Philadelphia's franchise player, and Fantasy owners should view him as a potential first-round pick. He should easily be drafted as one of the Top 3 quarterbacks and should have another dynamic season.
If there's a catch with Vick, it's that injuries could play a role -- he missed three games during the season with a rib injury and sat out the season finale to rest for the playoffs. But Vick's ability to pass and run makes him a unique asset that Fantasy owners have to at least think about in all formats with their first-round pick.
His encore to last season should be exciting, and he's one of four must-start Fantasy options for the Eagles along with LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. The Eagles once again should have an explosive offense.
McCoy is a first-round pick in all leagues, and he should be drafted at No. 6 overall after Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles and Ray Rice. Jackson is a low-end No. 1 Fantasy receiver, and he should be drafted as early as Round 2. And Maclin, who led the Eagles with 10 touchdowns in 2010, should be taken right after Jackson beginning in Round 3.
Bounce-back candidate ... Brent Celek, TE
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Celek went from Fantasy stud in 2009 to dud in 2010. Two years ago, Celek had 76 catches for 971 yards and eight touchdowns and established himself as a No. 1 Fantasy tight end. But then last year, Celek fell apart with just 41 catches for 511 yards and four touchdowns. He spent more time blocking last year than he did in 2009, and he also failed to develop a rapport with Vick (or perhaps Vick overlooked him while aiming for McCoy, Jackson and Maclin). Heading into this season, Celek should play better than he did in 2010, but we still consider him a No. 2 Fantasy tight end. The potential is there for him to succeed, and if he starts off the season playing well then add him off the waiver wire. We hope the Celek of 2009 returns this year.
Keeper-league target ... Dion Lewis, RB
The Eagles drafted Lewis in the fifth round of the NFL Draft out of Pittsburgh. Lewis, who ran for 2,860 yards in two seasons, could be the No. 2 running back for the Eagles behind McCoy. There's still a chance the Eagles could bring back free agent Jerome Harrison or sign another veteran to play behind McCoy, but Lewis could end up in that role in the future. All it takes is one injury to McCoy, and Lewis could be in a featured role. He is worth taking with a late-round selection in keeper and dynasty leagues and as a possible handcuff option for McCoy.
Impact rookie ... Alex Henery, K
That's right, we're talking about a kicker. The Eagles drafted Henery in the fourth round of the NFL Draft out of Nebraska, and he will replace David Akers, who is a free agent. Henery was the most accurate kicker in NCAA history, converting 89.5 percent of his field-goal attempts. As the kicker for the Eagles offense, even as a rookie, he has immense Fantasy value and is worth drafting as a starter with a late-round pick. Keep in mind that the Eagles have one of the top offenses in the NFL, and Akers has been an elite Fantasy option for the majority of his career with at least 32 made field goals and 45 made extra points in each of the past three seasons.
There aren't many weeks you would bench Vick, McCoy, Jackson or Maclin, and the Eagles should do well against most of their competition. Vick gets two games on turf to open the season, including a matchup with his former team against the Falcons. Philadelphia benefits from playing the NFC West, but the Eagles also have to face the AFC East. The matchup in Week 12 against New England should be intriguing to see how Bill Belichick's defense stacks up against Andy Reid's offense. And one potential road block for Fantasy owners could be having the Eagles face the Jets in Week 15 during playoff time.
Training camp topics
Training camp for the Eagles will mostly be about staying healthy because the last thing any of us want to see is Vick, McCoy, Jackson or Maclin go down with an injury. They are too valuable to all Fantasy owners.
We'd like to see the Eagles establish a No. 2 running back behind McCoy to find a handcuff option with a late-round pick, and Lewis could be that rusher if a veteran isn't added via free agency. We also hope to see Celek more involved on offense.
In deeper leagues, Fantasy owners should keep an eye on Jason Avant and even Riley Cooper. One or both could be worth drafting with a late-round pick, and last year Avant had 51 catches for 573 yards and one touchdown as Vick's No. 3 receiver.
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